BERLIN, Germany – Queues in front of the embassy? For travelers to India, that should be a thing of the past. The electronic tourist visa system should be valid for 150 countries starting immediately, explained Vinod Zutshi, State Secretary in the Indian Ministry of Tourism, at ITB Berlin. “We have expanded the e-Visa to all major travel destinations,” said Zutshi. The visa can be applied for directly online and costs about $50 including fees.
India is preparing itself for sharp increase in the number of tourists. The South Asian destination recorded a growth rate of ten per cent in 2015. The goal is to hold this mark in the future. Germany ranks among the top 7, making it an important source market. But tourism managers expect the strongest growth rates from Asia, from China for example. “India is on the rise,” says Zutshi.
Here India depends on religious, spa and wedding tourism, amongst other kinds. Buddha’s pilgrimage through India will be marketed under the name “Buddha Trail.” Health tourism – keywords: Ayurveda and Yoga – shows growth rates of 25 per cent. And Indian weddings are also considered tourist attractions. An Indian wedding will take place on Saturday, 12 March at the India stand at ITB Berlin, giving visitors a small taste of the experience.
To cope with the growth, India will invest more in its tourist infrastructure. Overseas ports will be made suitable for cruise ships and airports will be connected to international air traffic, especially in smaller places. Zutshi called on foreign entrepreneurs to invest in India.